"Classic" Kyle Hendricks Dominated in Ways We Must All Enjoy Right Now

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“Classic” Kyle Hendricks Dominated in Ways We Must All Enjoy Right Now

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

As Joe Maddon very correctly put it, yesterday was a “classic Kyle” performance.

Kyle Hendricks, after a few rough starts to open the season, apparently had a whole lot click at the same time for him yesterday, as his fastball movement and location was spot on, and his changeup usage was absolutely masterful. Hendricks not only pitched 7.0 scoreless innings (during which he was basically never seriously threatened), he struck out a whopping 11 batters, as he had them flailing and staring all day long. It was such a thing of beauty.

That curveball, man:

Imagine if he could throw that consistently a few times a game. Unless you’re sitting on it, I’m really not sure how you do anything but crumble like that hapless batter.

Fastball command has been the main issue for Hendricks in the early going this year (as many seasons for him, in fact), but yesterday, it was just so dang tight:

Here’s what his pitching coach, Tommy Hottovy, said after the game about how things fell in line (Cubs.com): “All the things we’ve been working on finally clicked. A lot of times with Kyle, he’s always right there. He’s always really close. And all it takes is one or two pitches to click and for him find that mechanic, that arm slot, and everything kind of falls into place and he gets rolling.”

That’s the thing about Hendricks: few pitchers in baseball have to be so fine with their mechanics to have success, and yet when Hendricks is right where he needs to be, he can dominate. Such a narrow band for him to hit, but when he hits it, he does what he did yesterday. When he doesn’t, he can really get smacked around. Fortunately, he is far more frequently where he needs to be than not.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one really crazy thing from yesterday’s game: the wild pitch.

This tweet came just minutes before it happened:

It was a streak that literally went all the way back to 2016. Absolutely unbelievable:

https://twitter.com/darenw/status/1119321292400992258?s=21

What I find most remarkable about that plot of thousands and thousands of pitches: there are so few that even had a *chance* to become wild pitches. It wasn’t like he was spiking them all the time and getting bailed out by his catcher. Hendricks doesn’t throw wild pitches because he just doesn’t throw wildly.

In conclusion, Kyle Hendricks now has a 3.54 ERA … down from 5.40 before he started the game. That swing was 27% worse than league average to 17% better than league average in a single day. Hooray for early-season small-sample fun!

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.